The Importance of the Letter in Merchant of Venice

676 Words3 Pages
One of the most interesting passages in The Merchant of Venice is Antonio's letter to Bassanio (III.iii.314-320). A letter is such an awkward feature to represent on the stage, that the fact of a letter being read aloud in the course of a play is significant. And indeed, this letter captures many of the main features of the play's conflicts. Antonio does not waste any time in communicating bad news, "my ships have all miscarried"(314) he writes, meaning he is broke, but he does not want to press this point too forcibly, as he probably fears that his wealth is the only cause of Bassanio's friendship. The use of the word miscarried is interesting, as it suggests aborted pregnancy as well as failed investments. It thus becomes a metaphor for what Antonio is unable to provide Bassanio with. Male bonding is fine, but it provides no sex (supposedly) and certainly no heirs. Antonio's "creditors grow cruel"(315), this statement has a tinge of offended pride, as the wording suggests that it is unreasonable for creditors to demand their money. As we are told earlier in the play. t...
Open Document